Truth is often a bitter pill, hard to swallow, yet it paves the way for clarity and enlightenment.
From staffing shortages to transparency concerns, there’s much more to the nursing homes than meets the eye. Here are the shocking secrets you must know about nursing homes in the US!
The taboo around nursing homes in the US
Let’s face it: there has been a taboo centering nursing homes in the US for many years. Unlike other retirement facilities, such as assisted living or memory care, nursing homes are generally associated with loneliness, isolation, and neglect. In addition, reports of nursing home abuse don’t help matters either!
It is reported that at least 50% of nursing home staff confidentially admitted to committing minor abuses. Furthermore, people over 65 are more prone to be victims of financial abuse. Here are the common types of abuses in nursing homes:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional/psychological abuse
- Financial abuse
- Sexual abuse
At least 27% of abuse cases involve physical while 21% are either physical or sexual abuse (perpetrated by other residents). But that is not to say that all nursing homes are bad. It is good to break the stigma surrounding nursing home abuse and know how to find the right home for your loved one!
If you are interested in learning more, read below:
Must-know: Things nursing homes are not allowed to do
Now that we have an understanding of the stigma that surrounds nursing homes, here are the things they are not allowed to do:
- Nursing homes are not allowed to conceal fees. That means no hidden fees of any kind!
- Staff cannot invade an elder’s privacy. They are entitled to keep their doors closed.
- Without consent, nursing homes cannot manage their financial dealings.
- Nursing homes cannot neglect or abuse patients/residents physically or emotionally.
- They cannot limit or prevent visitations from family members.
- No retirement facilities, especially nursing homes, are allowed to discriminate against applicants.
- Staff or nursing homes cannot hold a resident against their will.
- Nursing homes cannot impose any additional fees. What you pay is as per the agreement.
- Nursing homes cannot ignore complaints and are legally obligated to follow through with an investigation.
- They cannot withhold care and medical treatment from a resident.
25 Things nursing homes don’t want you to know
And if you need more than that, here is a list of 25 things nursing homes do not want you to know!
1. High STD rates
STDs in nursing homes might come as a shocker, but it is accurate, and no one wants this secret out! Alarmingly, the STD rates in a nursing home are rising and becoming a significant concern across the US.
2. High turnover rates
During and after the pandemic, aided by low wages, more than half of nursing homes in the US had lower staff levels. This has led to a high turnover rate among nursing home staff, which has impacted consistency in care.
3. Inadequate staffing
Due to high turnover rates, nursing homes generally don’t want you to know about the shortages in staff.
4. Undertrained staff
Due to nursing staff shortage, there is often a case of inadequate training that can lead to better management and better handling of patients. Federal law requires 75 hours of primary training for a certified nursing assistant (some states require more).
5. Nursing homes are profitable
While many nursing homes may not appear as profitable, do not let looks fool you. At least 60% – 70% of nursing homes in the US are operated on profit. It has also been reported that private equity firms own 5% of nursing homes.
6. Better staffing in non-profit nursing homes
Surprising, right? Well, many privately owned nursing homes (including the profitable ones) do not want you to know that government-run or non-profit nursing homes have better staff with higher wages.
7. Fine print
Look for ‘arbitration agreements’ in the admission paperwork. It means you are signing away your constitutional rights to sue if anything happens. Beware of the small, fine print!
8. Timing matters
Do you want to know the best time to visit a loved one? It is actually after 6 p.m., and here is why. During this time, dinner will most likely be served, and there will be fewer marketing people or managers. And that means you can get an accurate picture of the nursing home.
9. Meal time visitation
Similarly, visiting during meal times, most especially in the middle of the day, is an excellent time to catch how the nursing home operates, but especially how the residents are.
10. Checking out
Did you know that residents can check themselves out of nursing homes? Residents can voluntarily discharge themselves from a nursing home. Here is how.
11. Custom-care plan
Every nursing home must create a custom care plan based on their resident’s unique needs. While it is often glossed over, always ensure everything is in writing (with as much detail as possible) during the initial discussion.
12. Assigned physicians
Guess what? Nursing homes have assigned physicians for their facilities. Be sure to ask every relevant question regarding the procedure, emergency planning, and availability.
13. Private aide
A nursing home cannot tell you not to hire a personal aide for your loved one (everyone deserves extra care).
14. No billing
Nursing homes cannot require you to pay out of pocket for your parent. Even if they sent the bills to relatives insisting on payment, that is untrue and a violation.
15. Family caregiver
If a family caregiver wants to visit their loved ones to take care of them or visit them occasionally, the facility must allow them to be there.
16. Infection everywhere
At least 166,000 nursing home residents and over 3,000 staff members died from the coronavirus. And over 380,000 nursing home residents died from pneumonia yearly (during the pandemic).
17. Reoccurring complaints
A nursing home ombudsperson must legally handle complaints against facilities or staff.
18. Hidden fees
Some nursing homes often impose hidden charges, possibly significantly increasing the overall cost. It can only be set if it is in the agreement.
19. Limited activities
Residents in nursing homes may have restricted access to activities and social interactions. Even if it is advertised, there have been many reports as to the limited facilities for activities for senior residents.
20. Lack of dedicated dementia care
Not all nursing homes can provide the specialized care that dementia patients require. This cold, hard truth is often ignored or skimmed over during discussions between families and nursing home administrations.
21. Use of wrong drugs
Antipsychotic drug usage in some nursing homes has been found, according to reports. Used in treating bipolar and given to dementia patients, the risks associated with elderly residents are high.
22. Lack of rehabilitation services
Nursing homes do not have adequate therapy services. Even if they do, rehabilitation services may be limited, hampering residents’ recovery.
23. Negligence in care
Not all patients are treated equally. Some patients have been known not to receive the best care, leading to nursing home negligence. This can be due to the staffing shortage in nursing homes.
24. Dietary concerns
Staff trying to meet every specific nutritional requirement of residents will find it challenging, which can affect their nutrition and overall health.
25. Physical assault cases
While rare, physical assault cases do happen, and it is definitely not in the marketing material. Sexual assault cases in nursing homes are often underreported.
There is a reason why home care is gradually becoming popular in America. Why not read the following articles to learn more?
Anything else you need to know?
Educating yourself as much as possible is always wise to prevent others from exploiting you. Here are some basic things that are not allowed in nursing homes:
Items not allowed in nursing homes
- Firearms, knives, or any other potentially dangerous items that can be used as weapons cannot be brought.
- Illegal drugs and substances
- Alcohol (unless prescribed by a healthcare provider for medical purposes).
- Candles and incense.
- Electrical appliances like heaters, toasters, and microwaves are considered dangerous.
- Excessive cash or valuables.
- Pets are not allowed (though some facilities may allow therapy animals).
- Certain Electrical Appliances: Items with heating elements like toasters, hot plates, or heating pads may be restricted.
- Heavy furniture or medical equipment are not allowed.
- OTC medications or supplements.
As guardians of an elders’ well-being, you must be as vigilant as possible. While we have unveiled the stark reality of nursing homes, that is not to say that every facility is similar! But If you find that a nursing home is the best option for your loved one’s care, don’t hesitate to contact us!
What are 5 disadvantages to living in a nursing home?
The five problems of living in a nursing home are:
- Loss of independence and privacy.
- The cost of a nursing home is expensive, especially for private rooms.
- Quality of care is often compromised.
- Social isolation and loneliness.
- Risk of abuse and neglect.
What is the most common mistreatment in nursing homes?
Some of the most mistreatment in nursing homes is often neglect, which can be due to residents not having a safe and clean environment. It can also be that staff is not providing adequate medical or personalized care.
What are the safety precautions in nursing home?
Grab bars in the bathroom, non-slip bathroom mats or flooring, and fire alarms with sprinklers are the general precautions every nursing home must have. To follow through, trained staff must know how to respond to emergencies.